Your Guide to the British Social Season

May 15, 2019 DestinationEvents

The British social season, or ‘The Season’ as it’s often called, is a succession of historic annual events taking place from spring through to the end of summer, in London and its surrounding areas. This series of prestigious events all revel in a distinctly British experience. The arts, music, horticulture, sport and dedicated royal occasions all feature in the social season, offering a wonderful taste of tradition. It’s time to check your diary – these are the must-attend events you won’t want to miss.

Part of a polo horse running with protective gators on a polo field Cape Town South Africa
Credit: iStock wilpunt

Badminton Horse Trials (May 1 – 5)

Taking place at the beginning of the British social season on the grounds of Badminton House. 2019 saw the event celebrating 70 years hosting some of the finest horse-riding, making the event the world’s oldest and most prestigious horse trial. For five days riders had the opportunity to impress judges in dressage, show-jumping and cross-country, before the top twenty took part in the final show-jumping test. An event definitely worth adding to your 2020 social season calendar.

Glyndebourne Festival (May 18 – August 25)

2019 brings a range of new and exciting operatic spectacles to the annual festival, with exceptional opera in the heart of the countryside. This year’s attendees experienced the musical delights of La damnation de Faust, Cendrillon and Die Zauberflöte to name a few, as well as the music in the Glyndebourne Opera House.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 21 – 25)

Hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society, (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle of the horticultural calendar, showcasing the best in innovative garden design as part of a charming five-day show. Visitors this year can enjoy a riot of creativity and colour over eight Show Gardens, nine Artisan Gardens, five Fresh Gardens, and more than 100 floral displays from the world’s best nurseries, growers and florists.

Polo season (May – September)

Polo is one the world’s oldest and most graceful sports, with players and fans from around the world flocking to England to enjoy the summer tournaments. The Cartier Queen’s Cup (May 21 – June 16) has been played at Guards Polo Club in Ascot since 1945 and is the highlight of the sport’s calendar, attracting the biggest names in the game, as well as high profile celebrities and royalty gathering to watch the final. Guards Polo Club also manages Coworth Park’s world-class polo grounds, making Coworth Park the only hotel in the UK with its own polo fields and practice facilities. A highlight of Coworth Park’s polo season is the Audi Polo Challenge Cup, with the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex both being regular players.

Ascot Coworth Park Exterior Polo Sign Square
London, United Kingdom - July 11, 2012: The band of the Coldstream Guards marches in front of Buckingham Palace during the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Credit: iStock ZambeziShark

Trooping the Colour (June 9)

Trooping the Colour, also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade, is a traditional ceremony held annually on Horse Guards Parade near St James’s Park. Full of military pomp and pageantry, the event celebrates HM The Queen’s official birthday with an impressive display of marching manoeuvres by her personal troops, the Household Division. With over 1,400 officers and troops on parade, two hundred horses, and four hundred musicians, it truly is a sight to behold.

Royal Ascot (June 18 – 22)

Taking place on Ascot Heath near Windsor, Royal Ascot is Britain’s most high-profile and widely attended race meeting, arguably heralding the peak of the social season. Being a five-day ‘Royal Meeting’, the horse racing is naturally of the highest standard but the event is renowned as a social event in its own right, with over 300,000 people attending each year. All visitors are dressed to impress and keen to catch a glimpse of HM The Queen, who has attended every Royal Meeting during her reign. The Royal Procession is a consistently iconic moment marking the start of each race day.

Royal Ascot Racecourse
Credit: Ascot Racecourse
The Dorchester - Wimbledon Championship - Credit: iStock_jirivondrous
Credit: iStock_jirivondrous

Wimbledon (July 1 – 14)

The Championships, Wimbledon, are the highlight of the tennis calendar, hosted annually at the prestigious All England Lawn Tennis Club in London’s SW19. This two-week long tennis tournament is the oldest in the world and the only ‘Grand Slam’ to be played on grass courts. The event is synonymous with the British summer, strawberries, cream teas and Pimm’s. The games take place across 19 courts but the event is celebrated over London with plenty of big screens popping up in town centres for all to join in the fun.

Henley Royal Regatta (July 3 – 7)

The Henley Royal Regatta is an annual event, dating back to 1839, where hundreds of rowing crews from around the world compete in head-to-head knock out competitions. Hosted on the River Thames in the Oxfordshire town of Henley, more than 250 races take place over five days, making this one of the most famous regattas in the world. During the event the riverside is lined with a whole host of pop up restaurants, bars and shops.

The Dorchester - Henley Royal Regatta Fawley Court Helicopter Landing
Credit: iStock s white

Lord’s Test Matches (July and September)

Lord’s, often referred to as ‘The Home of Cricket’, is a ground in St John’s Wood, London, that’s hosted matches since 1814. The annual Test cricket matches attract keen fans of the sport as well as those simply seeking to enjoy the quintessentially English atmosphere. It also an opportunity to dress up (jackets and ties must be worn in the Pavilion, while smart casual attire can be worn in the Warner or Tavern stands).

We hope this has inspired you to make the most of this year’s social season, and in true British style we trust the weather will be kind.

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